Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Acre of Diamond - Review of a Masterpiece

Acres of Diamond

Russell Conwell wrote a speech called Acres Of Diamonds, which he delivered over 6,000 times around the world; it was eventually published as delivered in Conwell's home town, Philadelphia.

The central idea of the work is that one need not look elsewhere for opportunity, achievement, or fortune -- the resources to achieve all good things are present in your own community.

This theme is developed by an introductory anecdote, told to Conwell by an Arab guide, about a man who wanted to find diamonds so badly that he sold his property and went off in futile search for them; the new owner of his home discovered that a rich diamond mine was located right there on the property. Conwell elaborates on the theme through examples of success, genius, service, or other virtues involving ordinary Americans contemporary to his audience: "dig in your own back-yard!".

Conwell's capacity to establish Temple University and his other civic projects largely derived from the income that he earned from this speech.

Acres of Diamonds:
At the heart of his lecture was a parable Conwell heard while traveling through present-day Iraq in 1870:

There was once a wealthy man named Ali Hafed who lived not far from the River Indus. “He was contented because he was wealthy and wealthy because he was contented.” One day a priest visited Ali Hafed and told him about diamonds.

Ali Hafed heard all about diamonds, how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a poor man. He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor.

Ali Hafed sold his farm, left his family, and traveled to Palestine and then to Europe searching for diamonds. He did not find them. His health and his wealth failed him. Dejected, he cast himself into the sea.

One day, the man who had purchased Ali Hafed’s farm found a curious sparkling stone in a stream that cut through his land. It was a diamond. Digging produced more diamonds — acres of diamonds, in fact. This, according to the parable, was the discovery of the famed diamonds of Golconda.

The point, Conwell says, is that we often dream of fortunes to be made in faraway places. We ought instead to be open to the opportunities that are around us. He illustrates this concept with several other stories, including that of the discovery of gold in California.

Principles of Success:
How can we learn to discover these acres of diamonds in our own backyards?

Maintain a ready mind. Be open to the possibilities around you. Don’t let preconceived notions cloud your judgment. We often overlook the value of something because we believe we already know it.

Look at the familiar in new ways. Conwell lists some important inventions — the snap-button, the cotton gin, the mowing machine — and notes that these were created by everyday people who found new approaches and new uses for commonplace objects.

Learn what people want, then give it to them. Discover a market, and then provide a good or a service. Too many people do this the other way around. They develop a good or a service and then try to market it, try to manufacture desire. You’ll have more success if you see a desire and then try to meet it.

Knowledge is more important than capital. Lack of capital is a common excuse for not starting a business venture. How often have you heard, “You need money to make money?” Nonsense, says Conwell. He gives anecdotes of wealthy people who started with nothing but an idea.

Don’t put yourself down, and don’t belittle your environment. Don’t compare yourself with others. “Believe in the great opportunities that are right here not over there in New York or Boston, but here — for business, for everything that is worth living for on earth. There was never an opportunity greater.” Find the best in what’s around you.

Conwell says that inside each of us are the seeds of greatness. “Greatness … really consists in doing great deeds with little means and the accomplishment of vast purposes from the private ranks of life.”

I used to be one of those people who looked for diamonds in faraway places. I dreamed of doing something — I didn’t know what — until one day I found an opportunity that had been in front of me all the time: this site. Have you taken stock of your life lately? Perhaps there are diamonds

Toward the end of his life, Russell H. Conwell (1843-1925) observed, "I am astonished that so many people should care to hear this story over again. Indeed, this lecture has become a study in psychology; it often breaks all rules of oratory, departs from the precepts of rhetoric, and yet remains the most popular of any lecture I have delivered in the fifty-seven years of my public life. I have sometimes studied for a year upon a lecture and made careful research, and then presented the lecture just once -- never delivered it again. I put too much work on it. But this had no work on it -- thrown together perfectly at random, spoken offhand without any special preparation, and it succeeds when the thing we study, work over, adjust to a plan, is an entire failure." He then went on to explain to each audience that "acres of diamonds are to be found in this city, and you are to find them. Many have found them. And what man has done, man can do. [They are] are not in far-away mountains or in distant seas; they are in your own back yard if you will but dig for them." These comments provide an excellent introduction to Conwell's book. As I read it, I thought about Dorothy in L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Only after a series of adventures far from Kansas did she realize that "there's no place like home." What Conwell has in mind involves far more than such appreciation, however. The tale he shares in this book, concerning a wealthy Persian named Ali Hafed, demonstrates that almost everything we may seek elsewhere is already in our lives and available to us, sitting just outside your back door.

THOUGH Russell H. Conwell's Acres of Diamonds have been spread all over the United States, time and care have made them more valuable, and now that they have been reset in black and white by their discoverer, they are to be laid in the hands of a multitude for their enrichment. In the same case with these gems there is a fascinating story of the Master Jeweler's life-work which splendidly illustrates the ultimate unit of power by showing what one man can do in one day and what one life is worth to the world. From the beginning of his career he has been a credible witness to the truth of the strong language of the New Testament Parable where it says, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, 'Remove hence to yonder place,' AND IT SHALL REMOVE AND NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNTO YOU. As a student, schoolmaster, lawyer, preacher, organizer, thinker and writer, lecturer, educator, diplomat, and leader of men, he made his mark on his city and state and the times in which he lived. A man dies, but his good work lives. His ideas, ideals, and enthusiasms have inspired tens of thousands of lives.It is my wish that you also are inspired by this story and set to find your own "Acres of Diamond".

No comments:

Post a Comment